Thursday, September 26, 2013

Back Alley Tourism

No, i haven't fallen off the edge of the planet and yes, i do still have a little bit of Nova Scotia left to show you. It's been an exciting couple of weeks. The Reverberation: Capturing the Live Music Experience show that i have three images in opened up at the Art Academy and i spent the last week matting and framing three more images for the Concerned Photography show that is due to open at the Kennedy Heights Art Center on October 5th. I have been very honored to be included in both these shows along side a very accomplished group of photographers.
Today i'm going to show a few images from the historic town of Lunenburg. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this quaint ship building town (the Bluenose was built here as well as the HMS Bounty used in the 1960 film of Mutiny on the Bounty) has been photographed to death, no doubt. These days i usually go into town to shop, not photograph, as i have already taken all the touristy shots that one expects to see from such a place. That doesn't mean i don't take my camera, but when i shoot around town of late i generally take a more back alley approach.

Nova Scotia; Lunenberg; Laundry
©David Sorcher 2013

I don't know what it is about laundry. Maybe it's the allusion to scandal. Maybe it's just the public exposure of a somewhat private side of a stranger's life. Or perhaps it reminds me of prayer flags fluttering in the wind. But i do always find it interesting. I find backyards are often more interesting than fronts. 

Nova Scotia; Lunenberg; Door: Wreath
©David Sorcher 2013

Now fronts can be interesting too. The facades of "downtown" Lunenburg are generally impeccably dressed and brightly painted. This is why i was so attracted to this one. Showing its age closer to the edge of town, yet still adorned with a colorful floral wreath, it presented a more human face in the midst of all the other intentional perfection. 

Nova Scotia; Lunenberg; Door; Lion; 62
©David Sorcher 2013

Likewise this rusty weathered door. It draws us up and in, past the now eroded surface, inviting us to get to know Hans and Karin just a little bit better. Go ahead, knock...

Nova Scotia; Lunenberg; Stop Sign; Primary Color
©David Sorcher 2013

But there is no way of denying the bold and primary colors that are Lunenburg. I like to abstract them when i can and take them somewhat out of the context of complete buildings and structures. 


Nova Scotia; Lunenberg; Red
©David Sorcher 2013

Nova Scotia; Lunenberg; Graveyard; Tombstone
©David Sorcher 2013

On the edge of town sits this old cemetery, the home of red ants and ancient mariners. I was loving how this tree grew up, cracking the tombstone in half, yet still holding it firmly, lovingly in its grasp, lifting the stone's crown up as it continues to grow skyward. 

Nova Scotia; Lunenberg; Graveyard;Tombstone; Snail
©David Sorcher 2013

The snails are also in residence, adhered to the rough, eroding surfaces of the tombstones, certainly contributing to their further decay. I find these time smoothed stones most interesting, their memorial assertions of a past existence slowly wearing away into illegibility and obscurity. 

Nova Scotia; Lunenberg; Dory; Dock; Boat; Adams & Knickle Ltd.; Wharf
©David Sorcher 2013

Of course, in a picture postcard town it's hard to ignore the postcard images. The waterfront presents some irresistible color relationships and a wonderful nautical flavor. 

Nova Scotia; Lunenberg; Dory; Dock; Boat; Adams & Knickle Ltd.; Wharf
©David Sorcher 2013

The dory is an interesting boat to me with a rather unique shape and line and the traditional warm colors they are painted creates a lovely relationship with the cool blue sea, especially in the late afternoon sun.  


©David Sorcher 2013

Looking beyond the postcard scenes i have always been amused by the contrasting realities of this spot in the center of town, the picturesque view on the mural of the 19th century historic waterfront situated next to this late 20th century Loonies & Toonies Dollar Store. Somehow in Nova Scotia it all makes perfect sense. 







Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Gaff Point, Pt. 2

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point; Stone Stacking
Inukshuk ©David Sorcher 2013

As promised i am picking up Pt. 2 of the Gaff Point hike right where i left off, with the photo that ended the last installment. I'd like to say that's for continuity's sake, but truth be told, i just like this image and want to publish it a second time.

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point; Stone Stacking
©David Sorcher 2013

Stones are stacked in all kinds of configurations on the point.

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point; Stone Stacking
©David Sorcher 2013

These two reminded me of seals and seemed to go together. 

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point
©David Sorcher 2013

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point
©David Sorcher 2013

I decided this would make an interesting B&W, but i'm still pretty fond of the colors in the original capture, so i'm posting both for your own judgement. I approached the filtration on my conversion as if i had filtered B&W film through the lens with a green filter to bring out the foliage. So i started with the green filter setting in Photoshop and then tweaked the different color channels until i was happy with the tonality. 

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point
©David Sorcher 2013

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point
©David Sorcher 2013

Nova Scotia has a great variety of interesting and colorful lichen (though i am not really sure if the orange one is a lichen or a fungus). So this is the scientific portion of the program. The greenish stuff on the trees is often referred to as "Old Man's Beard". I'm not sure about the orange stuff, but i think i'll call it "Fuzzy Navel". Very scientific, eh?  :-)

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point
©David Sorcher 2013

Twisted deadwood occupies areas along the top of the cliffs. Battered daily by wind, salt and rain it weathers like driftwood only smoother and seems to me to be the exposed bones of the lush forest that lay just beyond the edge. 

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point; driftwood; rock; stone
©David Sorcher 2013

Driftwood along the cliffs. Rock, wood, stone.

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point
©David Sorcher 2013

The trail leads through a stand of dead trees before returning us back to the beach. I am uncertain of the reason for these dead trees. They might be left from an old fire, but it must have been more than a couple of decades ago if that is the case. 

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point; Rocks; Dragon
©David Sorcher 2013

There is one last "secret beach" before the trail lets us off on Hirtle's Beach. It's easy to see from the trail, but a bit more difficult to get to as there is no real set way down and the drop is pretty steep. But i always like to make the effort so that i can visit with my friend the "sea serpent". Fortunately the tide was still low enough and the dragon was revealed. 

©David Sorcher 2013

Back on Hirtle's beach we had just a few kilometers to the car. Walking just ahead of the sunset i encountered the same driftwood octopus that i shot on the way up when the tide was lower. Time for one last shot before the ocean covered it up once again. Since the sun was well past the stump at this point i used a flash to fill in some light on the weathered wood. 

Nova Scotia; Hirtle's Beach; Queen Anne's Lace
©David Sorcher 2013

The rising tide forced us to higher ground and a detour over the drumlin cliffs of Hirtle's Beach. The very last rays of the setting sun were placing their good night kiss on a field of Queen Anne's lace. Just a moment later and the light was gone. 











Monday, September 16, 2013

Gaff Point, Pt. 1

Nova Scotia; Indian Path; Inlet; Sunrise
©David Sorcher 2013

Actually the above image is not on our Gaff Point hike, but every journey needs to start somewhere and here i am still at my in-law's house looking out on their backyard as the sun rises. Truth be told we should have been on the beach two hours before i even took this shot, but we had a long day previously and all this backyard beauty made us a bit lazy. So i missed my "golden hour" on the hike along Hirtle's Beach to the Gaff Point trail head and frankly, i probably missed a lot of good images because of our tardiness. We actually didn't hit the beach until noon, much later than i ever expected we would start. 

Nova Scotia; Hirtle's Beach
©David Sorcher 2013

So we made our way along Hirtle's Beach on our way to the trail head in the worst light of the day. Straight overhead light is hard and unforgiving, providing the least amount of shadow play. This doesn't mean you can't find photographs, but light is just not as intriguing nor as warm. 

Nova Scotia; Hirtle's Beach; Driftwood
©David Sorcher 2013

Still, we spent more time on the beach than we should have (as usual) before we reached the trail head. I'm not quite sure of the distance along the beach, but the Gaff Point loop is 4.7 km (about 3miles). Still, the fastest Veronica and i have ever done this hike is 7 hrs. and our longest time out was about 12 hrs. Back in my cross-country running days i could have run this loop in 15 minutes. But when you stop every few moments to make a photograph, well, we take our time. There is just too much to see. We also learned our lesson a while back that we don't take non-photographer friends or family along on this hike with us. They just don't tolerate our pace very well.  :-)

©David Sorcher 2013

I had seen the tip of the iceberg with this driftwood a few days earlier at high tide. It was nice to find it exposed when the tide was low and explore its weathered wood and rock-filled crevices.

Nova Scotia; Hirtle's Beach; rocks
©David Sorcher 2013

If you like to beachcomb Hirtle's is a paradise for beach rock collectors. The colors can be remarkable, especially when wet. 

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point; Silhouette; Cliffs, Atlantic Ocean
Awaiting the Return from the Sea ©David Sorcher 2013

After emerging from the woods the Gaff Point trail runs right along the coastal cliffs to reveal some amazing views. We had spent so much time on Hirtle's Beach that the long shadows were returning. I took that opportunity to make this silhouette self-portrait, but in retrospect i think i look more like a pregnant woman awaiting the return of her fisherman husband from the sea. :-)

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point; Cliffs, Atlantic Ocean; Rocks; Iron Deposits
©David Sorcher 2013

The colors and formations of the rocks along the point trail are fantastic, thanks to deposits of iron and other minerals. 

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point; Cliffs, Atlantic Ocean; Rocks; Iron Deposits
©David Sorcher 2013

These are rocks that one can truly image as being ALIVE! :-)

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point; Cliffs, Atlantic Ocean; Rocks; Seaweed
©David Sorcher 2013

©David Sorcher 2013

Textures, colors, line and form all play gleefully by the sea. Seaweed clings to rock like children to their mother.  

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point; Cliffs, Atlantic Ocean; Rocks; Iron Deposits
©David Sorcher 2013

The late afternoon sun falls with a lovely selectivity on these colorful cliff rocks. We are losing our sun, though, on this side of the point and need to pick up our pace to follow the light to the western facing front. 

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point; Cliffs, Atlantic Ocean; Rocks; Iron Deposits
©David Sorcher 2013

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point; Cliffs, Atlantic Ocean; Rocks; Iron Deposits
Couch Potatoes ©David Sorcher 2013

I love the natural seating this section of rock provided, imaging these boulders as "couch potatoes". :-)

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point; Cliffs, Atlantic Ocean; Rocks; Stone Stacking
Inukshuk ©David Sorcher 2013

We finally reach the tip of the point. Stone stacking has become a tradition at the point with the constructions often taking on figural traits such as in this example. Ones shaped in the human form like this are known as inukshuk by First Nations people. We'll pick this up right here next time when i will give you a look at the return side of the hike. :-)














Friday, September 13, 2013

Interior Light


Nova Scotia; Interiors; Door
Study Door ©David Sorcher 2013

I have always been drawn to interior light. Not the artificial type, but rather natural light both direct and indirect as it passes through panes of glass and is redirected about a room bouncing off reflective surfaces. 
The house on Indian Path has always been a wonderful canvas for such light. 

Nova Scotia; Interiors
©David Sorcher 2013

I love the selectivity of this kind of light and how it plays with the shadows. Simple objects become somehow more important in this glow.

Nova Scotia; Interiors; Basil
Fresh Basil ©David Sorcher 2013

Nova Scotia; Interiors; Blueberries
Breakfast Berries ©David Sorcher 2013

Backlighting reveals the leaf structure of fresh basil and provides a twisting dance of light through glass cups of blueberries waiting to find their way to the breakfast table. 

Nova Scotia; Interiors; Stove, Cast Iron; Fan
Stove Fan ©David Sorcher 2013

With just a hint of color visible in this field of black cast iron i decided to convert this one fully to B&W. This is how the morning light, just after sunrise, breaks across my in-law's living room. 
Of course, the more i look at this light inside the house the more it pushes me to the door to get outside into the day. :-)





Thursday, September 12, 2013

Critters of the North

Truth be told, you are not about to see a gallery of the great wildlife of Nova Scotia. Next time i go i may well pack a really long lens for shooting the more dramatic animal dramas you just can't get close to. I could then literally set myself up on my in-laws back deck and shoot herons, cormorants, ospreys and even the occasional bald eagle that come to fish in the inlet. I would also likely get some shots of the shy seals that swim up the LaHave River in the early mornings or maybe finally take that whale sighting-seeing boat that sails out of Lunenburg in the summer months. But my camera bag was heavy enough and i made the choice to travel with wide and macro lenses rather than super long ones, so these critters are a bit more intimate and approachable.

Nova Scotia; Dragonfly; Hirtle's Beach
©David Sorcher 2013

Dragonflies are even more difficult to shoot than butterflies if you ask me. They are a very hyper insect and are constantly on the move making sudden changes in flight direction that sometimes seem to defy the laws of physics. My approach on this little red fella was breath-held and slow and he stuck around just long enough for his close-up. 

Nova Scotia; Cat
©David Sorcher 2013

I have to admit that Ollie is one of my very favorite Nova Scotian critters and she pretty much has me in her back pocket (if cats had pockets). A noble beast indeed, she'll purr as soon as look at you and loves a good scratch behind the ears. There is, however, a darker side to Ollie that i will reveal later in this post that might stifle your coos and aws. 

Nova Scotia; Bees; Garden: Flowers
©David Sorcher 2013 

Paul's garden sure knows how to attract the bees and i followed this little guy around a bit as he hopped from bloom to bloom gathered his pollen for the day. If you are unaware of the crisis that currently exists in the honey bee populations of the world you should perk up your ears and take serious note. Our very own existence might hang in the balance if these hard working pollinators disappear from our fragile eco-system. The inter-connectiveness of our planet is undeniable and essential and awareness of that fact is one of the key functions that i think nature photography serves.  

Nova Scotia; Sandpipers; Hirtle's Beach
©David Sorcher 2013

Sandpipers are one of my favorite beach birds, but you might have to observe them in motion to understand why. The way they skirt across the beach just ahead of the tide with their little legs moving so quickly, like a sped up old movie film, just brings a smile to my face every time. 

Nova Scotia; Crab; Hirtle's Beach
©David Sorcher 2013

Well, when i promised you critters i never guaranteed they would all be alive. This crab's soul has left us, but he had yet to be seagull food and was still pretty much intact on the beach. 

Nova Scotia; Sculpin; Hirtle's Beach; Fish
©David Sorcher 2013

The Sculpin has to be the ugliest fish i have ever encountered in person. There is something wonderfully prehistoric, though, about its spiky features. 

Nova Scotia; Sculpin; Hirtle's Beach; Fish
©David Sorcher 2013

I loved the dragon-like textures of it's skin and the spiny dorsal fins. It was only later in my research that i discovered that these spines are supposedly venomous and produce a rather painful sting. The reason why that is important is that as i moved in for some tight shots of this beautifully ugly little sea beast i discovered that it was not...quite...dead...yet! It would occasionally gulp, move its toothy jaw or flex its gills. My humanitarian wife thought to try to save the poor creature (though i was fairly certain it had been out of the water far too long). She carefully picked it up, grabbing as much sand beneath it to keep from actually making contact with the fish as she could and carried it down to the water's edge. Sure enough, it merely rolled limply as the surf came in and though still somewhat alive there was obviously no hope for recovery. Fortunately Veronica unwittingly avoided the venomous sting. :-)

Nova Scotia; Sculpin; Hirtle's Beach; Fish
©David Sorcher 2013

This particular angle reminds me of the way we often find fossilized fish in the rocks and surely these images will end up in my "Future Fossils" body of work. 

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point; Dragonfly
©David Sorcher 2013

Again i found myself stalking the wild dragonfly. I have named this guy Homer Simpson for obvious reasons. :-) I'm using my 105mm macro here and leaning in over all kinds of rock and shrubbery for this shot hoping not to scare Homer away. No time for a tripod nor any place i could set the legs anyway. The problem is that the closer you move in, especially with a macro, the more sensitive your focus range becomes. Often the auto focus will lock in, but my position will move ever so slightly as i push the shutter and i miss the focus in the end. I have found that in such unideal conditions setting the focus to continuous as opposed to single shot gives me a much better chance at grabbing a sharp image as i move in and out for the shot. 

Nova Scotia; Gaff Point; Crab
©David Sorcher 2013

An empty shell is all that remains of this sea critter, shot on the iron-rich cliffs along Gaff Point. I'll be posting more images from this Gaff Point hike in the days to come. 

Nova Scotia; Deer
©David Sorcher 2013

A family of whitetail deer make their way along an inlet just after sunset. A longer lens would have been really nice here, but i like the inclusion of land, sea and sky in this mid-tele shot as well. 

Nova Scotia; Indian Path; Spiders
©David Sorcher 2013

The spiders are numerous all about the outside of my in-laws house, especially this time of year. These guys are my friends and are welcome to catch and eat all the mosquitoes their little eight-legged hearts desire.


Nova Scotia; Cat; Squirrel
©David Sorcher 2013

Um...speaking of catching and eating...remember Ollie, that cute little cuddly ball of purring fur from the start of today's post? Well this is Ollie at work...rodent control. Her meal is a squirrel (this variety is a bit smaller than the kind we are used to in Cincy) and in no time all that was left on the doormat was a bushy, bloody tail, a gift to the masters of the house to show us all what a fine job she is doing.
About 15 minutes later Veronica says to me, i thought you said Ollie finished that squirrel. I say, she did, but when i looked outside she had a second one eaten half way down and soon enough it was just a bushy tail on the mat as well, gone, "nuts, guts and all"as they say. And she still demands two meals a day from her keepers. :-)
Ollie says, "You always knew i was a cat..." ;-)